Integrating Early Childhood Care and Education in Sri Lanka: From Global Evidence to National Action

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Changes in social and family structures, gender roles, and working environments have led some countries to introduce integrated centers for early childhood care and education (ECCE) for children ages zero to five years, combining the advantages of preschools and childcare centers. ECCE services are becoming increasingly important for countries as a support system for working parents. In countries such as Sri Lanka, where female participation in the labor force is low in comparison with international standards, providing affordable childcare services could also help more mothers to enter the labor market. Responding to the needs of employees, child development centers in the plantation areas in Sri Lanka are already providing integrated childcare services for children in this age group. The increasing demand for affordable childcare services and the growing recognition of the benefits of holistic early childhood development have brought ECCE to the forefront of Sri Lanka’s development agenda. Well-designed ECCE systems can improve the lives of children and families and provide significant advantages to national economies. Access to effective ECCE can equalize learning opportunities by improving school readiness and by putting children on a more equal footing at the primary school level. These early advantages have proved to have a lasting impact, affecting both educational and earning potential in the adult years. The significant income inequalities in countries such as Sri Lanka could be addressed through investment in effective ECCE programs, and enhanced understanding of the benefits and potential long-term impacts of ECCE could help governments tailor programs to ensure maximum return on investment. This study seeks to answer the following questions: Is it more effective to provide early childcare and education services separately or in an integrated manner? Under what conditions would the provision of separate care and education services be more effective? The study provides an analysis of the ECCE environment in Sri Lanka, with recommendations for improvement within the current context. The information presented in the study is a starting point to foster the improved understanding of a complex subject area involving multiple stakeholders.
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Warnasuriya, Renu; Sosale, Shobhana; Dey, Sangeeta. 2020. Integrating Early Childhood Care and Education in Sri Lanka: From Global Evidence to National Action. International Development in Focus. © Washington, DC: World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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